Harvard University's Caribbean Insects: Thysanura
 

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Phasmatoda

DESCRIPTION:
Phasmids (walking sticks or stick insects) are generally stick-like, although some may actually be quite robust. Some may be quite large, well over 25 cm. Their most distinguishing characteristic is their advanced camouflage. From family to family, adults may or may not have wings. The mouth parts are adapted for chewing.

DIVERSITY:
There are approximately 2000 species worldwide, with four families in North America; six families worldwide.
Heteronemiidae
Phasmatidae
Timematidae
Bacillidae
Pseudophasmatidae
Phyllidae

RANGE:
Phasmids are widely distributed in tropic and temperate zones.

HABITAT:
Phasmids live in trees and shrubs where they find food and cover.

ECOLOGY:
Phasmids are all herbivorous. Defense mechanisms consist of specialized camouflage, thorassic glands which secrete a noxious substance, and the ability to regenerate lost limbs.

Eggs are laid individually, and may be deposited in soft wood matter or scattered on the ground. Many eggs scattered on the ground have a cap of nutrients that entices ants to bring them into their nests. The ants eat the nutrient cap and discard the egg which then hatches giving the nymph the benefit of protection.

COLLECTION METHODS:
Phasmids are slow moving and easy to collect by hand, although the defense secretions of some alarmed phasmids may be harmful if squirted on the face.

Please browse and download our Field Guides to insect families and check our Caribbean Taxonomic Literature lists for available PDF files.

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Please browse and download our Field Guides to insect families and see our Caribbean Taxonomic Literature lists for available PDFs.

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